Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
November 22, 2000

Originally posted on the Boston Sports Guy website.

Jeff Kent, Most Valuable Player. Just when you thought you'd seen everything.

Kent has always been a good player, of course, but until he arrived in San Francisco nobody ever accused him of being an MVP candidate. The irony: across the bay, Jason Giambi pushed ahead of two nearly identical competitors (Delgado and Thomas) for the AL MVP on the basis of his clubhouse leadership. In the NL, the numbers 1 and 2 in the balloting went to two players who lead nobody but themselves - on the same team, no less. Kent and Bonds don't even speak. That must be what the voters had in mind when they made Dusty the Manager of the Year . . .

The choices in the NL this season are murkier and even more subjective than the AL. We can start with two basic points, though:

1. Forget the pitchers. With starting pitchers throwing fewer innings every year, a starter has to be overwhelmingly dominant to deserve MVP consideration. As I argued last week, San Pedro de Fenway, with an ERA half that of any competitor, meets that standard. As great as Randy Johnson is, though, no NL hurler comes close to the impact of the best everyday players. And don't get me started about giving MVP awards to closers who throw 65 innings a year. Not until a pinch hitter has won the award.

2. The numbers, taken on their face, demand that the award go to Todd Helton. Helton totally dominated all the important offensive categories. He clearly put more runs on the board than any other player. If you want to follow the route of 1997 (Larry Walker) and 1995 (Dante Bichette finishing second in the balloting), Helton's your man.

The fact that Helton finished fifth, and was placed first on only one ballot, is a good sign that even the most Luddite writers have now seen enough Coors Field baseball to recognize that hitting .370 with power in thin air does not make you Lou Gehrig. Helton's a fine player, just hitting his prime, and he had a wonderful year; even taken in context he deserves to be considered among the MVP candidates. But he's no Barry Bonds.


Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:00 AM | Baseball Columns | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
November 20, 2000
POLITICS/LAW: Right To Choose At Stake In Presidential Election

From an email I sent to friends on November 20, 2000:

The Democratic Party now says all pregnant chads must be delivered; all chad pregnancies must be carried to term. I say every chad must be a wanted chad. If a voter has exercised his or her right to control when and whether to deliver the chad, the states should have no authority to force them to be delivered. It is fundamental to the scheme of ordered liberty that the right to decisions made in the privacy of the voting booth stay there. Liberty finds no refuge in a recount of doubt.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:54 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
November 16, 2000

Originally posted on the Boston Sports Guy website.

Well, trialís over, and the Crank is open for business. Iím still getting over the bitterness, so I may wait for the end of the postseason awards to put the finishing touches on the Subway Series Diary. Instead, without further ado...


With the votes in for Giambi, who should have actually been named the 2000 American League MVP? Well, as usual, I like to set out my criteria for the award first: it should usually be given to the player who does the best job of scoring or preventing runs. At the end of this column Iíll talk a bit about the more intangible factors, but first we have to look at the bottom line: the numbers.

Baseball players have two basic jobs: putting runs on the scoreboard, and keeping the other team off the scoreboard. All the other goals Ė wins, pennants, championships Ė are team goals that the player can contribute to but canít control. Now, in a close MVP race, contributions to the ďteamĒ goals Ė like leadership and clutch performance Ė can matter. The award is for the player with the most actual value to his team, after all, not the most productive talent. If one player really does contribute big hits at big times, that makes him more valuable Ė even if we know that that extra value is largely luck or chance. But at the end of the day, the guy whose individual accomplishments produce and/or prevent the most runs is almost always the most valuable player (and the most deserving of the award).


Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:57 AM | Baseball Columns | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)